|04 Dec||3:00 PM||P||Fulham (H)||2||1||Win|
Well that was close wasn't it? Certainly much closer than we would've expected, anyway. And, save for two moments of good play, finished off with two moments of absolute genius by Samir Nasri, a young man in the form of his life at the moment, it could've all been so different against a sprightly, stubborn Fulham side.
Once again, the manner in which Fulham were let right back into proceedings, with us so comfortable, so dominant, was entirely unacceptable. Unacceptable, albeit with a huge element of misfortune as Laurent Koscielny and Sébastien Squillaci thought bugger opposition marking, let's just man-mark each other, cue a nasty clash of heads as Diomansy Kamara ghosted in for 1-1 on the half-hour.
Now I won't go on about how terminally liable we are to gifting the opposition goals. That has been done to death, and the aforementioned incident went a long way in providing us with the nail-biting finish and narrower victory than initially hoped for.
And so I won't pay much attention to the many doomsayers in the media who are so keen to pinpoint our shortcomings rather than commend the side's resilience in securing an eventual victory when others around us have not. For me, I'd much rather look at it as a big three points won in difficult circumstances, putting us nicely at the top of the tree.
The question is, can we sustain it ahead of a testing run of fixtures?
Our climb to the top, thanks largely to the snow (oh and to Jermaine Beckford over at the Bridge), now provides us with the perfect platform from which to build momentum. That, ahead of next week's trip to Old Trafford and a pre-New Year meeting with a faltering Chelsea.
Yes, we will have to play better and look more solid if we are to emerge as winners from those two heavyweight encounters, but we are in a very good position, and so there is no need for any overt alarm. Not as with a few weeks ago, anyway. And yes, we will definitely have to turn up as a team, with some players seemingly happy to take days off, relying on the likes of Nasri to come up with the goods. And that is unacceptable from top players involved in a team sport.
First up, though, is the no small matter of attempting to secure qualification to the Champions League knockout stages, very much hoping it is a case of a third time lucky. In the past, a European match at home, against the group's weakest side would not have caused much angst as we head into the week.
On this evidence, however, there are still the odd jitters at home, and with half-time boos echoing around the Emirates at 1-1 against Fulham, it is obvious that it does not take much for the support to air their frustration. All of which oblige the side to come up good when Partizan Belgrade come to town on Wednesday, and save us the endless agony and profligacy that has somewhat haunted them at the Grove this season. Agony that was again on show against the Cottagers, until Samir Nasri decided to take supreme control with quarter of an hour left.
From there on in, the big games will come thick and fast, with Old Trafford always a semi-defining moment of our season. A venue which had promised much in terms of play over the last few years, but delivered next to nothing. This time, however, we head up north at the top of the pile, and we are (apparently) more mature this season. With something a bit more meaningful to hold on to this time too, given our league position at the top.
A perfect opportunity. Let's make sure we stay there.
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